The time has come to turn away from crude discussions of my reproductive anatomy, adhesive items on various parts of my body, hormone levels, and toes. It’s time to classy this place up. And you know how I hate to disappoint.
So let’s talk about breasts.
More specifically, let’s talk about how most women feel the need to wear a bra daily, but may suffer from any or all of the following:
1) Lack of piles of money
2) Cluelessness about how to fit oneself for a bra
3) Strict preferences regarding lingerie, such as it should not have feathers or animal prints or an integral water balloon
4) An age over 18 (hence not being shaped the way the bra people seem to think one ought to be shaped)
5) Unwillingness to use duct tape to create cleavage, as they do in pageants
6) Insufficient time to spend in a dressing room trying on eleventy hundred bras
7) Insufficient self-esteem to withstand trying on eleventy hundred bras.
I, myself, suffer from items 1, 3, 4 and 5. This doesn’t generally stop me from purchasing bras; it takes some time and ingenuity, but I’ve managed to find some styles I can tolerate. I am picky enough (both with regards to style and cost) that I don’t venture out for more bras until the current batch starts looking pretty ratty, but I always have at least a week’s worth of bras in the rotation. These bras fit me properly and render my breasts, uhhhh… breast-shaped. (That sounds redundant for a bra but every woman reading this knows that that’s not necessarily a given in today’s lingerie.)
Okay, now that you’re all picturing my boobs (nothing to write home about, by the way), let me tell you about a good friend of mine. She is the first Bra Phobic I’ve known, I think. Let’s call her BP for short. I love BP. But in spite of being quite a few years my senior, no one ever taught this poor woman how to shop for lingerie. The result? BP owns only two bras, both purchased during the Reagan administration. Both are shapeless, linty, and grey, and do nothing for her. Every single time I’ve gone shopping with BP and she has tried on clothing for my review, I have tacked on “… but it would look even better if you had a bra that actually fit” to my critique. And yet she resisted.
Today she called me with some time to kill and I convinced her to head over to Marshall’s with me. Once there, I told her I needed to look at bras. That made it easy to suggest that she do a bit of browsing, as well. By the time I’d made my selections for the dressing room, she was standing one rack over–holding nothing–with a panicked look on her face. I had to help her go through and pick out some things to try.
Her requirements are interesting. No underwires, she said. Too uncomfortable. I pointed out that when an underwire bra fits properly, the wire can’t be felt. This was news to her. Okay. I managed to slip a couple of underwires into the pile. Nothing shiny, she said. The fabric has to be very soft. So she and I felt up a few dozen bras, comparing fabric notes, much to the snickering of other shoppers around us. Nothing black, she said. Why? I don’t own any black shirts, she countered. Oh yes! I exclaimed. They require that black bras be worn only with black shirts, or the Bra Police come after you! She acquiesed on that one (but not until I’d been smacked by a flying Bali). Nothing with lace, she said. Too itchy. I showed her that much of the “lace” now available is a spandex blend, soft and stretchy. Okay then.
By the time we got to the dressing room, I needed a nap, I tell you.
She started complaining from the adjoining fitting room before I even had my shirt off. I tried to talk to her down; I explained that every woman has to try on a bunch of bras before she finds the right one, just have some patience. Meanwhile I tried on my first selection and it fit. (That never happens. Note to self: take BP bra shopping more often. She is a lucky talisman.) So I was done, and free to help her. I got dressed again and hovered outside her fitting room door.
“This one is just wrong!” she wailed from inside. I asked if she wanted me to look, and she said something about gouging out my eyes if I opened the door. Okay. But on the next one she started making “well, maybe” sorts of noises and I convinced her to let me in.
The straps were twisted, and adjusted to different lengths. BP hadn’t noticed this, but was commenting that it almost fit. I fixed the straps for her. Then it fit! And there was much rejoicing! And BP went from being bra phobic to delirious with glee, working her way through the pile–in her excitement–with the fitting room door half open so that I was there to assist her with straps and such (“I draw the line here,” I cautioned her, “cuz I’m not coming over to help you get dressed every morning”). It was hilarious. Never have you seen a woman so excited by Olga and Warners. When I made her put her shirt back on over one of her selections to see how different she looked, she nearly wept. “Hey!” she said, “I have two separate boobs! Who knew!”
Amused, but growing weary, I managed to get myself kicked out of the fitting room by asking her how it felt that I had now had more nipple-viewing time with her than her last boyfriend. So, she pretty much hates me now, but has four new bras.
I’m trying to come up with a succinct way to add this to my list of unusual skills for my resume, but I’m afraid that “Practical Bra Fitter” doesn’t really convey the right nuance.
More importantly, I think I may have found a crusade I can really get behind. Wouldn’t our tax dollars be better served in the public schools if there was a Girl’s Health unit on bras, rather than all that time they spend putting condoms on bananas while everyone giggles? Hey, I could teach it, even. This week, Measuring and Discovering Your True Cup Size. Next week, Just Say No To Sequins. Special bonus session on important issues like Avoiding The Uniboob, Really The Entire Thing Belongs In The Cup, and Exposed Bra Straps Aren’t Sexy No Matter What Anyone Says.
I think I’m on to something.